Withdrawals, case by case, neither-nor: the presidential camp divided on the strategy for the second round of the legislative elections

Withdrawals, case by case, neither-nor: the presidential camp divided on the strategy for the second round of the legislative elections
Withdrawals, case by case, neither-nor: the presidential camp divided on the strategy for the second round of the legislative elections

With 306 three-way (and 5 four-way) elections resulting from the ballot boxes in the first round, the question of whether candidates in a weak position should withdraw or remain will be decisive for the composition of the future National Assembly. The dilemma arises in particular for the candidates of the presidential camp, who often come in third place, behind their opponents from the New Popular Front and the National Rally. At the national level, the candidates of the Ensemble coalition (Renaissance, MoDem, Horizons, Radical Party) won 20.8% of the vote on June 30. The strategy to adopt has been agitating the presidential camp since Sunday, which is struggling to speak with one voice. On the ground, the heterogeneous strategies of the candidates of the presidential camp illustrate the lack of overall coherence in the strategy between the two rounds.

The “case by case” and the “nuance”

Yesterday evening, Gabriel Attal announced the withdrawal of the Ensemble candidates who came third where there is a risk of victory for the RN and where the candidate who came second “shares the values ​​of the Republic”. A position also expressed by the Renaissance party. For his part, the boss of MoDem, François Bayrou, spoke of withdrawals “on a case by case basis”. “There is a need for a circo by circo analysis, to look at the possible reserves of votes,” also declared yesterday the president of the Radical Party, Laurent Hénart.

“Case by case” is also the position expressed by Hervé Marseille, the boss of the UDI and president of the centrist Union group in the Senate. “The goal this week is to prevent the National Rally from having an absolute majority […] The President of the Republic said that we had to be around clearly democratic and republican candidates. We have to look at each person’s background,” insisted the senator from Hauts-de-Seine on our channel at midday.

The outgoing president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, also opened the door to nuances within the Insoumis, explaining for example that she “does not treat Caroline Fiat and David Guiraud in the same way”.

A “neither RN, nor LFI” which irritates certain members of the left wing

Édouard Philippe, another actor in the presidential camp, for his part called on his candidates who came in third place to withdraw, while estimating that no vote should “be cast on the candidates of the National Rally, nor on those of France Insoumise “.

This morning, the Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire demonstrated the same lack of flexibility, by calling, when the Ensemble candidate is not in the second round, “to vote for a candidate from the social camp -democrat”, that is to say “a representative of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party or the Greens”. De facto excluding all candidates presented by France Insoumise. Some parliamentarians from the presidential camp have clearly distanced themselves from the strict appeal of the tenant of Bercy. Like Xavier Iacovelli, Renaissance senator, and former socialist. “The risk today is that the RN is in the majority and therefore that is what the enemies of the Republic are today, not the LFIists,” he reacted this morning on Public Senate.

Other outgoing deputies from the left wing also defended a clear instruction. “No ambiguity, no neither-nor. The political fact is that we have the extreme right at the gates of power, so we cannot afford to procrastinate. So we must block everywhere,” called Clément Beaune, former minister defeated yesterday in Paris. “EVERYWHERE, Republican Front against the National Front,” reacted Sacha Houlié on X.

At midday, Emmanuel Macron had to bring his ministers together to address the thorny question of the strategy between the two rounds. The day after a call for a “large, clearly democratic and republican gathering”, the head of state once again made the RN the main adversary. ” Do not be mistaken. It is the extreme right which is on the way to access the highest offices, no one else,” he declared, while several ministers appeared in favor of a “neither-nor” line. Gabriel Attal, for his part, spoke by videoconference with the “Together for the Republic” candidates. “Only the RN can have an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Neither the NFP nor LFI can have an absolute majority,” he summarized, according to France Info.

These positions are justified by the candidates’ better transfer of votes.

In fact, the national withdrawal instructions sent by the general staff were not always well applied locally. In several constituencies, the presidential candidate refused to withdraw, considering himself to be in a better position than his left-wing opponent for the second round. This is the case, for example, in Charente-Maritime, where Anne-Laure Babault, outgoing MoDem MP, chose to stay, considering herself to be “the only one who can face the RN because the only one with reserves of votes”. With 25.3% of the vote, she came in third place behind the ecologist candidate (26.9%) and the RN candidate (34.4%).

Same case in the 14e Bouches-du-Rhône constituency where Renaissance candidate Anne-Laurence Petel (28.91%) refuses to give up her place for the benefit of PS candidate Jean-David Ciot (29.48%). Here, the leading RN candidate is not that far away with 31.65%. “The left-wing candidate has already lost […] “I am the only one who can bring together democratic and republican voices,” she said.

Several Horizons candidates also do not intend to step aside against the LFI candidate, who came in second behind an RN that was close to 40% in the first round. This scenario is found in Dordogne (1time constituency), in Hérault (4e constituency) or in the Alpes-Maritimes (1time constituency), the constituency of Éric Ciotti. “Abandoning it in favor of LFI or the RN would be a betrayal of everything I am committed to in politics,” testifies for example the Horizons candidate Clément Tonon in Dordogne.

A desire not to leave voters “orphans”

Renaissance spokesperson Loïc Signor also chose to go to the second round in the 3e constituency of Val-de-Marne, despite a significant delay (23.77%) against Arnaud Barbotin of the Conservative Movement (27.31%) and the rebellious Louis Boyard (42.17%). The candidate, who claims to have received the support of the Prime Minister, explains that he does not want to “leave voters orphaned by a representative of republican values”.

While several ministers have withdrawn, such as Marie Guévenoux (Essonne), Sabrina Agresti-Roubache (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Fadila Khattabi (Côte-d’Or), Dominique Faure intends to stay on the starting line for the second round. The Minister for Local Authorities and Rural Affairs, from the Radical Party, wants to try her luck despite her third position (28.99%). “Withdrawing is giving a choice that I don’t find myself in,” she declared. In this 10e In the Haute-Garonne constituency, the minister believes that the risk of a RN victory “is not there”, with her candidate having obtained 30.37%, behind the PS candidate at 36.24%.

Despite these maintenances, withdrawal remains the most common attitude in the majority, in the event of 3e position in constituencies close to an RN victory. Yesterday, Renaissance candidate Albane Branlant very quickly announced that she was throwing in the towel, to avoid an RN election to the detriment of François Ruffin (LFI group). “I make a difference between political adversaries and the enemies of the Republic,” she explained.

Others played for time, hoping to obtain a withdrawal of the left-wing candidate, who was better placed in terms of votes in the first round. This is the case of Sylvie Casenave-Péré in the 4e constituency which was still maintained yesterday evening. With 25.88% of the votes, she was almost on par with Elise Leboucher, her LFI opponent (25.94%). Only 35 votes separated them, enough to compete for the role of the best candidate against Marie-Caroline Le Pen, the sister of the former presidential candidate, who collected 39.26% of the votes. The Renaissance candidate finally gave up.

The candidates still in the running have until Tuesday, 6 p.m., to decide whether or not to remain.

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